Mainspring – Jay Lake

I think this was Lake’s first published novel, according to what I remember of the brag-quotes on the cover.  With that in mind, I was very impressed with this writer’s obvious experience and skill.  But, sometimes the scale of the effort made me a little nervous about the final destination.  All in all, worth the trip.  Now on my list of follow-up authors.

There is a lot of ground covered in this book. There is an angel in the first chapter, who arrives and tells our young hero that he must somehow stop the Earth’s Main Spring from winding down and causing an apocalypse.

mainspring_winder_750

This is what a real mainspring rewinder looks like, BTW

Don’t be thrown off by the initial theology focus – it does not stay that way. This ongoing metamorphosis of theme and location may be why it took me a little longer to read the book.  In some ways it made it odd that the one young man was experiencing all these things – from the almost Dickensian apprenticeship with the clockmaker, to the baroque Boston court where he tries to deliver his warning, to the airship which heads to the world’s geared equator.  Excellent descriptions of the vertical forests, btw. Really a sense of scale given for such an impossible landscape.

So, our young hero treks hither and yon collecting plot coupons and sees some interesting/fascinating parts of this clockwork world.  Not slamming the construction of the story, just saying that there’s no loitering about – it’s go-go-go.

The book reaches a resolution, but not to the extent that it rules out sequels to finish saving the world, but not leaving you totally hanging. Overall, it’s thoroughly atmospheric and a tiny bit draggy in parts, maybe because I was trying to catch my breath and say ‘wait, we are where & doing what now?’… but an interesting experience.

Lucky I read this! When I saw the cover, I thought this was some other steampunk angel story, which I started and rejected in the days before this blog.  I am happy to report, this is not that book with the gruesome vivisection of angels to convert their energy to fuel. I still don’t want to read more of that other one.

The tone of Mainspring reminds me of the Monster Blood Tattoo YA series, in that the central character is a newcomer to the world of intrigue.  And, steampunk/magic of course.

3.5 / 5 *

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  1. [links] Link salad heads for Florida | jlake.com
  2. Jay Lake – Bibliography « Bibliophage91's Blog

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